This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at

Tag: Jowika

Listowel Town Park, A Listowel chaplain in WW2 and a Church Street landmark gets a touch up

A Great Tit

Photo credit: Graham Davies


Childers’ Park

Pedestrian entrance to Listowel Town Park with Dandy Lodge in the background

The newly enlarged entrance from Bridge Road

Sign flattened by the elements

1916 commemorative garden

Dandy Lodge

Listowel Community Centre


Listowel Parish commemorates The Holocaust

This is Fr. Michael Morrison who was born in Listowel in 1908. He was a chaplain who attended at the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp at the end of WW2.

His story is here

 BBC Archive; World War 2 People’s War

Photo: Kerry’s Eye

At Sunday mass in Listowel on January 28 2018, Holocaust Memorial Day, Fr. Morrison’s grandnephew, Finbarr Walshe of Tralee presented an icon to Listowel parish. The family believe that the icon was made by inmates in the concentration camp.

The Bergen-Belsen camp was built to hold 10,000 people, but on the day it was liberated 60,000 were crammed into appalling conditions. An estimated 50,000 people died there between 1941 and 1945.

Following the war, Fr Morrison served as a parish priest in Australia, before eventually returning home to Ireland, where he died in 1973.


Plasterwork getting a Facelift

A little touching up to the famous plasterwork was in progress as I passed by on Church St. in January 2018.


The Success of Sive in 1959

Some more newspaper cuttings from the Sive 1959 archive. Thank you, David O’Sullivan.


Listowel in 1968

Newsbeat came to town to see if it was snobbery that was keeping local girls from applying for lucrative jobs in a new local factory. The interviewer was the late Bill O’Herlihy.

Newsbeat in Listowel

Colm Cooper in Woulfe’s, Memory of My Mother and Jowika in Germany

Wintry Morning in Listowel


Colm Cooper in Listowel

Never meet your heroes, they say. People were not taking that advice in Listowel on November 17 2017 as we waited for Colm Cooper, one of the greatest footballers ever to wear the green and gold, to arrive in Woulfe’s Bookshop.

These little boys waited patiently at the head of the queue for their hero to appear.

Brenda, Kevin, Maura, Mickey and Mary were also waiting patiently as the VIP guest was being given a tour of the racecourse by David Fitzmaurice. Colm hopes to be able to come to Listowel Races next year, an outing he has missed through footballing commitments for many years.

The queue was 3 deep snaking through the shop by the time Colm appeared escorted by Stephen Stack, an old friend and footballing and banking colleague.

Stephen introduced the footballer turned writer. He had to have his list of Colm’s achievements written down for him for it would be difficult for anyone, even Colm himself, to remember them all.

Stephen told us a story that was related to him by Shane Quinn. Shane got the job of marking Colm, then only 18, in a local game. Shane was taken off at half time as it was clear that he couldn’t cope with the rising star of Kerry football. 

“How did you feel about being taken off.” 

According to Stephen’s story, Shane said that his head was in such a reel that he climbed over the wall and went home to bed.

Colm didn’t delay us long with speechmaking.

Colm was here to sign his book and sign he did, patiently and tirelessly and he was more than willing to chat to everyone, to listen to stories, to send greetings to friends and to pose for endless photographs. He is a lovely man.


A Poem for November 

We all have memories of our mothers. In my mind I can hear my mother singing 

“Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim

He doesn’t care for me and I don’t care for him.”

or the plaintive Teddy O’Neill

as she went about her daily chores.

Patrick Kavanagh’s poem recalls the simplicity of rural life and the ‘countless, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love” that we can all recall about our mothers.

My final choice from The Irish Hospice’s Stories of Love and Hope is

In Memory of my

Patrick Kavanagh

I do not think of
you lying in the wet clay

Of a Monaghan
graveyard; I see

You walking down a
lane among the poplars

On the way to the
station, or happily

Going to second
mass on a summer Sunday

You meet me and you

“Don’t forget to
see about the cattle.”;

Among your
earthiest words the angels stray.

And I think of you
walking along a headland

Of green oats in

So full of repose,
so rich with life-

And I see us
meeting at the end of a town

On a fair day by
accident, after

The bargains are
all made and we walk

Together through
the shops and stalls and markets

Free in the
oriental streets of thought.

O, you are not
lying in the wet clay

For it is harvest
evening now and we

Are piling up the
ricks against the moonlight

And you smile up
at us – eternally.


Jowika in Germany

Philomena Moriarty Kuhn recently posted some photos on Facebook. They were taken on a trip by workers at Jowika Listowel to Germany. I’m sure many of my blog readers will recognise people. If you see your self or someone you know, I’d love to identify people.


Holidays are Coming

Free Parking in Listowel from Friday 1st to 16th Dec from 1pm each day, then Free Parking from Monday 18th until Monday 1st Jan subject to a 2hr parking limit in a parking space.

Jowika and some pictures taken from a kite

Jowika in Listowel

In Ireland in 1961 Seán Lemass was Taoiseach.  Lemass was really our first European. He encouraged trade links with Europe. With The First Programme for Economic Expansion he encouraged direct investment by European manufacturers in Ireland.

It was a case of, “If you build it, they will come.”  The IDA built advance factories around Ireland and then went to the continent to persuade industrialists to locate here.

As part of this movement, Dan Moloney, T.D.  was put in contact with the Weber family who had a factory at Solingen in Germany. This factory was Jowika.

The advance factory was not yet built in 1960 when the Weber family came to town. They opened an office in a premises in Church Street; Brownes now Liam Dillons

An early employee remembers that packages were brought by horse and dray from the railway station. These packages contained cuckoo clocks and scissors. They were individually packaged in Listowel for the Irish and English market.

Another employee remembers that the kookaburra was the symbol of the company and badges with kookaburras were distributed to the employees.

The factory was finished by 1962 and there was a  grand opening.

Because they had no experience of manufacturing work and little or no German, a group of early employees were sent to Germany to the parent factory to learn the ropes.

In all about 30 local men and one woman, Cathy Halpin, went on this first learning mission. The company was very much a family business and Cathy tells me that when she went to Germany she lived with Henry Weber’s grandmother in Solengen.

Jowika gave valuable employment to Listowel for many years. It was taken over in 1973 by an American knife company and traded until its closure in 2003 as Imperial Stag.

Here is a link to a video made about Jowika/ Imperial Stag, including footage from a visit by the American ambassador.

Imperial Stag, Listowel


Then and Now


Stunning aerial photos from the kite man




Dillons, Ballyduff, the whooper swan and updates on schoolboys and postmen

Scully’s Corner 1995

 (photo; Pat Del Savio)

Theresa Dillon, Eileen Scully and Margaret Sheehy

Pat Del Savio sent me these photographs. Pat is a daughter of Theresa Dillon, whose parents were Patrick Dillon and Johanna Lynch. Theresa kept the Dillon name all her life as she married James Dillon from Dromerin.

Pat (Theresa’s daughter) now lives in Florida but she is very proud of her Listowel ancestry and loves Irish music and dancing


Ballyduff, Co. Kerry

This old photograph (I know it’s old because there is scaffolding up on that round tower for ages now) I sourced on a Facebook page on Ballyduff. The writer is about to close the page so I’ll steal a few gems to share before he takes them down.

Interesting Facts about Ballyduff

1. Ballyduff or in Irish “An
Baile Dubh”, means the “black village”.

2. The Rattoo Round Tower is the
only complete round tower in Kerry.

3. On 1 November 1920, the Black
and Tans shot local man, John Houlihan, dead and burned the creamery to the

4. The first motor car – A
Chambers – was brought to Ballyduff in 1907 by Dr. Pierce.

5. Canon William Ferris, the
author of “The Gaelic Commonwealth” and many other works came from

6. The Boys of Ballyduff song
was written by P.J. Sheehy on the occasion of the Ballyduff/Crossabeg
All-Ireland Hurling final in 1891.

7. Rattoo Heritage museum is
located in the village. The museum contains local and archaeological
discoveries about North Kerry.

8. John Mahony (1863–1943) was a
famous Ballyduff Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with the Kerry senior
inter-county team in the 1890s and captained Kerry to their only All-Ireland
hurling title in 1891.

9. RTE television, the first
station in Ireland, went on the air on the 31st December 1961. Not many people
in Ballyduff had television sets at this time so people gathered nightly on
the street in the village to watch a television which was switched on in the
window of Kearney’s shop!

10. The Church in Ballyduff
village was first opened on June 20th 1837 and was called after SS. Peter and

11. Rahela Grotto was built in
1957 which was known as the Marian year in honour of Holy Mary. Babies that
were born in the Marian Year, whether they were boys or girls, had to be given
the name Mary-even if it was a second name!

12. Tobar Rí an Domhnaigh (Well
of Sunday‟s King) is a Grotto and Holy Well on the Ladies Walk. It is also
known as the Well of Lepers.

13. Tom Dunne, Glounerdalive was
the first local man to ride a bicycle (Penny Farthing) through the village!

14. Tobar a Leighis is the
grotto and Holy well near the Cashen. The water from this well is said to heal
your mind as well as your body! It is said that a Golden fish can be seen in
the well by people who are cured! St.Bridget visited this well when she came to

15. Ladies used to walk everyday
from the Great House in Rattoo to another Great house in Ballyhorgan. In those
days, there was a law that stated that the people living on the road that
linked the two houses were not allowed to have windows facing the road so they
could look at the ladies walking by! This is why the road is now known as
Ladies Walk!!

16. Kerry were represented by a
Ballyduff team when they first won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship in 1891

17. The library in Ballybunion
was moved brick-by-brick from the church in Rattoo in 1952!

18. Edmund Barrett , a very
successful sports-man was born in Ballyduff in 1880. In 1908, at the Olympic
Games held in London, he won a bronze medal in wrestling, and also won a gold
medal with the London tug-of-war team. He also won an All-Ireland gold medal
with London in hurling against Cork in 1901. He is the only Irishman to win
two gold medals.

19. Butter was once made in The
Ballyduff Creamery. The Churn was installed in 1958 and the butter maker until
1971 was John McCarthy.

20. There was an underground
tunnel called a Suterrain linking Rattoo Great House and Ballyhorhan House.

( I take no responsibility for the truth or otherwise of any of these facts. I just copied and pasted.)


Finuge, Winter home of the whopper swan

People in the Ballyhorgan, Lixnaw, Finuge area have been campaigning diligently against any planned erection of massive wind turbines in this lovely area of North Kerry. The latest salvo in this campaign is on behalf of the whopper swan.

The above photo and the following article appeared in last week’s Kerryman;

“Iceland to Finuge – Home of the Whooper Swan’ reads the slogan against a stunning picture of the birds coming into land taken in Finuge on Monday. The first 70 birds of an expected 500 arrived on Monday in their usual migratory path from Iceland.

Finuge’s importance as a winter home for the species is well-known within birdwatching circles nationally with ‘twitchers’ – as they’re known – coming from as far as Kilkenny and Wexford to observe the graceful creatures feeding and nesting in Finuge.

But it is feared the erection of the ten turbines, if given the go-ahead, could pose a major threat to the birds. Awareness of their presence in Finuge comes as manna from heaven for the hundreds of locals fighting against the wind farm plans.

“What I would say is that these birds are very accident prone as low-level fliers with poor vision,” local man Matt Mooney said. “We’re trying to raise awareness of their presence at the moment and the water plant at Scartlea cross is one of the best places to view them from,” he said.

It is believed Finuge is one of the most important sites in the entire country for the species, home to ten per cent of their Irish numbers during the winter.

A survey of the Whooper Swan in 2005 found 9,748 wintering here, but that figure had declined to 5,000 by 2010 amid fears the proliferation of windfarms along the west coast of the country in that time impacted their migration patterns.

Birdlife International found that the emergence of windfarms here posed a ‘most recent threat’ to the Whooper. The threat is not just through direct collision with wind turbine blades, Birdlife International found. It said associated affects of the machinery poses a threat also, not least the impact of the low-frequency noise produced by the turbines on the birds. “We’re the first spot for them to land on their 800-mile trip from Iceland and they roost and breed here,” Mr Mooney added.”


(photo: Denis Carroll)


1930 Schoolboys….the story behind the picture

The old boys’ school in Listowel consisted of 6 classrooms, 3 up and 3 down.  The Low Babies/Junior Infants class was taught in the library across the road from the school. In the early 1930s an additional room was added on. While this refurbishment was under way, the 6th class were taught in St. Patrick’s Hall. This photograph was taken there.

Vincent Carmody told me the above information and he also set me straight on a few of the boys’ names.

Gerald Relihan who died not too long ago was probably the last of these boys. He is pictured at no. 3 in the back row and not no. 2 as stated last week.

In the middle row the Mick McCarthy at no. 4 is the famous proprietor of The Embankment in Tallaght. He was the brother of the late singer/songwriter, Seán.

Tony McAulliffe, no.1 in the second row went on to play for Kerry in 1938.

Martin Quigley , No.9 in Row 2 married a sister of Jackie Moore who is standing next to him in the photo.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamnacha go léir.


Lovely email re the postmen

Vincent Carmody’s photo of the postmen evoked many happy memories for one of my correspondents, Cathy Dunne.

Here is what she wrote:

Mary, thanks for the great photo of the postmen.  Denis Horgan (pops as I used to call him) was a lovely man.  When I first started working as a secretary at Jowika (later Stag Cutlery) I stayed with the Horgans.  Mrs Horgan (nee Hickey) was my dad’s next door neighbour and friend.  Their daughter Frances was a good friend of mine.  We meet up in London as she lives not too far away in Enfield. Before he went to bed every night he polished my shoes for next day!  

Paddy Moloney was the postman that took the van with the post to Lyreacrompane P.O. for delivery around the area by the postmen on bicycles.  When I first went to live in Germany my mother used to go out to the “cross” to see if Paddy had any letter from me.  That time post used to take quite a time from Germany so she gave up after a week.  The next week he had a letter and brought it into the house for Mom as he knew she was worried.  I also used to know Denis Stack and his daughter was also a friend of mine.

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